For four years I was an Assemblies of God minister AND a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity. This is an excerpt from my book Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes: Removing Religion to Find Relationship , which recounts some of the the lessons I learned as a minister/monk.
During my four years at the Little Portion monastery in Eureka Springs, AR, I was usually the only non-Catholic at the community. Because of this, I was often the “go to” person when non-Catholic guests arrived. Since the community is located about ten miles from Eureka Springs, AR (a vibrant tourist destination that is the home of the Great Passion Play), and 60 miles southwest of Branson, MO, we would often have visitors who were either fans of John Michael, or curious about our community, or both. If these visitors happened to be non-Catholics, then the call usually went out, “Find Brother Jim.” Besides John Michael, I was the only one at the community who was bi-lingual; I spoke both Protestant and Catholic.
One day, two couples showed up at the community, one Baptist and the other Mennonite. I was in the library when one of the sisters came in and said, “Brother Jim, some Baptist people are here.” By this time, I had been at the community long enough to know what questions they might ask, and they did not disappoint me.
The two couples were sitting in the dinning commons when I walked in and introduced myself. After a few niceties, one of the men cut to the chase and said, “Aren’t Catholics mostly work-oriented? I mean, don’t they believe that they are saved through works?”
I said, “Have you ever asked a Catholic what they did to ‘get saved’?”
“No,” he said.
“Well, let’s ask one. We’ll ask the first person who comes into the room. How does that sound?”
They thought that was a good idea.
About one minute later, Sister Betsy walked into the dinning commons. Sister Betsy is from Cut Off, Louisiana, which is WAY down in the bayou. (This is not pertinent to the story, but she is the only person I know from there, so I wanted to include it.) I called her over and said,
“Sister Betsy, what did you do to get saved?”